Review of “The Duke I Tempted” (The Secrets of Charlotte Street #1) by Scarlett Peckham

Peckham, Scarlett. The Duke I Tempted. New York: NYLA Publishing, 2018.

eBook | $4.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1641970327 | 277 pages | Georgian Romance

5 stars

When people were first talking about The Duke I Tempted, I had mixed feelings. I was intrigued by the concept, but I’m not into BDSM, especially given the ways some authors have inaccurately depicted it. But this book and the second one are both available on OverDrive, and I am still looking to stretch my romance-reading wings, so I decided to gie it a try.

And I was blown away. It’s hard to believe this is Peckham’s debut novel, as the story is pretty much impeccable, touching on the difficult topics of grief and loss and Archer’s unorthodox tactics to negotiate these feelings. But ultimately, it reinforces the essential truth of BDSM being about pain only being a means toward pleasure, and while I make no claims of being an expert, I felt the depiction of it in relation to his character felt realistic.

I also really like Poppy. She’s already not your typical heroine at the beginning, with her skills as a botanist and her independent nature, but I enjoyed seeing her response to the discovery of Archer’s secret, where she works to become knowledgeable about BDSM, even joining the club at one point, to learn how to please her husband.

And that leads me to the supposed “cheating,” which other reviewers have made much ado about, when all I wanted was content warnings about potentially harmful material. Out of context, it is cheating, I won’t disagree. But I think when you factor in the issues Archer is going through and Poppy working to understand, even when he offers her the chance to be free of him, it’s proof that she doesn’t see it that way, or at least she didn’t once she got over the initial shock.

This is a historical romance that has a very by-the-numbers premise, but with a few additions, becomes more daring and subversive. I recommend this to anyone looking for a new, edgier take on historical romance.

Buy it here: https://amzn.to/2RtEdCH

Review of “The Other Miss Bridgerton” (Rokesbys #3) by Julia Quinn

Quinn, Julia. The Other Miss Bridgerton. New York: Avon Books, 2018. 

Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0062388209 | 391 pages | Historical Romance

4.5 stars

Julia Quinn is one of the few autobuy authors where her new release goes near the top of my TBR pile, only to leave me agonizing as I’m faced with the prospect of waiting another year for more books from her. And this one is no different. While there are some small pacing issues, given some of the other books I’ve read lately committing much worse crimes in terms of pacing in relation to plot, I can’t be too upset with this book wrapping things up more quick;y than I’d like.

JQ has two major strengths, characterization and dialogue, and they both shine here. While other authors like to make their characters, especially their heroes, emotionally complex and closed off to the point of being unlikable, you don’t see that with her. There is some deception, and that is where the story could have benefited from being a little longer, because it seems like Poppy just kind of accepts that Captain Andrew James is also her cousins’ friend, Andrew Rokesby, since they’ve already developed feelings for one another. But I love how well their banter, peppered occasionally with Shakespearean references and quotes, as well as discussions of maritime language, among other fun topics, led the way to them falling in love, even when things started off on somewhat tenuous footing.

As this book is given the subheading “A Bridgertons Prequel,” references to the original series are inevitable, and I love how well they’re worked in. It is always a daunting task for any creator to release prequels to their established and well-loved works, given that there will not only be the inevitable comparisons to the originals but examination of the text by eagle-eyed fans to make sure it matches up with the established canon of the world. And while she is not infallible, as some of these examples from past works indicate, she has done well in the case of this book and series with adding to the Bridgerton family history in a believable way, and referencing members of the family we know and love.

That being said, I would recommend this to any Bridgertons fan. While, again it’s not the perfect book, it offers up more  exactly what I think most readers of the Bridgertons and JQ love.